KUCHING, Dec 6 ― State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin today said he has a meeting with his federal counterpart Maszlee Malik next week on restrictions imposed on Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) lawmakers visiting schools on official business.
He said he hoped to meet the federal minister on December 9 or 10 to discuss on the restrictions.
He said the restrictions could have been imposed over claims that GPS lawmakers had brought in party flags and made political speeches while officiating school events.
“That is not true. We never brought in party flags or made political speeches. We never touched on politics. Any lawmaker who touches on politics, it will backfire on them,” Manyin told reporters after the signing agreements ceremony between Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC) and University of Cambridge and Sarawak Campus of Curtin University of Technology, Australia.
He claimed when they visited schools, they always touched on the importance of education to the children and parents.
“What Chong Chieng Jen (Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman) had claimed recently that we brought flags and made political speeches was not true,” he said.
He said as a general rule, Chong, being the deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, should not have interfered with the affairs of other ministries.
“He has no locus standi to speak on behalf of Ministry of Education. He should take care of his own ministry, like how to bring down the prices of consumer goods which have kept on rising,” he said.
Manyin said he wanted to speak to Maszlee to sort out the problems after the federal minister has returned from Japan.
He said he believes that the problems can be sorted out since he has a very cordial relationship with Maszlee.
He said according to two circulars issued by the Ministry of Education (MoE), GPS lawmakers can make official visits to school after the school headmasters or principals have obtained permission from the state Director of Education.
However, he said there are times when the department could not make decision so it has to refer the matter to MoE.
“I have brought up the issues concerning two circulars to the state Cabinet and it has directed me to meet the minister of education to see how the matter can be reviewed,” he said.
Manyin said many rural primary schools have to depend on funds from the GPS lawmakers over the years, like for repairing of school buildings, building of school halls and funds for the Parents-Teachers’ Associations.
“In my own constituency of Tebedu, for example, three secondary schools have received over RM1 million each from me,” he added.
Chong, who is also Sarawak DAP chairman, had claimed recently that GPS lawmakers were not banned from entering schools on official business.
He had said schools needed to seek permission from the state Education Department before allowing lawmakers, either from GPS or state Pakatan Harapan, to make official visits.
He had also claimed that GPS lawmakers had brought in party flags and made political speeches at school events.